Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Another House Member Set to Retire; A New Political Carter in Georgia

Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC-6), who has represented the Greensboro, N.C. area since his first “landslide” election in 1984 that featured a victory margin of less than 100 votes, announced that he will retire at the end of the current Congress. Coble, now 82 and dealing with health challenges, will close out 30 consecutive years of congressional service when his final term in office comes to an end at the beginning of 2015.

Though the 6th District is safely Republican and should not cause the national party any trouble in the replacement campaign, the Coble announcement yields the third such new open seat just this week. The grand total of 2014 open districts has now increases to 23, 16 of which are Republican held.

We can expect a spirited Republican primary, which is often the case when a region has not been open at the congressional level for a long period of time. Possibly the leading contender, and an individual who appears poised to run, is  Continue reading >

Post-Election Day Surprises

Rep. Jon Runyan

Rep. Jon Runyan

NJ-3

New Jersey Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ-3) yesterday became the second sophomore Republican to announce that he will voluntarily retire at the end of the current Congress. Like Arkansas Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR-2), Runyun was a clear favorite to win a third term in the House but has decided to end his congressional career. The Garden State congressman indicated that he wants more time with his family and was quoted as saying, “politics shouldn’t be a career and I never intended to make it one.”

Rep. Runyan was elected to the House in 2010 after spending 14 years playing in the National Football League, most notably with  Continue reading >

Election Night Analysis

Election Night 2013 may have turned out somewhat differently than political polling projected in terms of margin, but the actual voting yielded few surprise winners.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, as expected, Gov. Chris Christie (R) romped to a second term, defeating state Sen. Barbara Buono (D) 60-38 percent. The only question would be whether the governor could bring new Republican state legislators with him, but the legislative chambers remained virtually intact. The initial unofficial count shows the GOP gaining one state Senate seat and two Assembly positions, but strong Democratic majorities remain in both bodies.

Virginia

In Virginia, though polls were suggesting a Terry McAuliffe win of greater than five points over Ken Cuccinelli – the final Washington Post poll projected a 12-point gap, for example – the actual Democratic margin of victory was only three points,  Continue reading >

Crist Announces, Scott Pounces

Just a day before the odd-numbered year election, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced his political comeback attempt. Crist, who previously was elected as a state senator, attorney general, and governor when a member of the Republican Party before losing a race for US Senate as an Independent, now as a Democrat, is attempting to re-claim the office he left in 2010.

The toughest thing for any party-switcher is winning the first nominating election before the candidate’s new partisan electorate. Crist is off to a fast start in locking down the key Democratic leaders and, so far, faces only state Sen. Nan Rich as an active Democratic opponent though four others have also announced their candidacies for the nomination.

Crist made his official announcement yesterday in his home county of Pinellas, and several Democratic officials including former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, an ex-US congressman, several mayors, and party county chairmen were on hand to support his entry into the race. But the party support is not universal, as Sen. Rich vowed to continue her campaign.

Crist struck the theme that he will be “the people’s governor,” and referred to GOP Gov. Rick Scott, who he said came to the office as an outsider but has since strayed from his original intent. “He went from taking over Tallahassee to becoming the example of what’s wrong with the place,” Crist said about Gov. Scott in comments from his announcement address as reported in the Miami Herald newspaper.
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Look for at Least One Surprise Tomorrow on Election Day

It appears all of the “big” race outcomes, except one, are foregone conclusions in tomorrow’s significant 2013 election.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Christie has maintained leads approaching or exceeding 25 points for virtually the entire election cycle, and he will easily cruise to a second term when the ballots are actually tabulated. No one is predicting an upset for Democratic nominee Barbara Buono, a state senator. The only intrigue is whether Christie will extend political coattails to Republican legislative candidates in order to increase the party strength in the state legislature. Democrats are expected to maintain control of both the state Senate and Assembly.

Virginia

Turning to Virginia, former Democratic National Committee chairman, Terry McAuliffe, is likewise poised for victory tomorrow night. Every poll has staked him to a lead of at least four to as many as 12 points over Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Christopher Newport University released the latest of the public surveys (Oct. 25-30; 1,185 registered Virginia voters; 1,038 characterized as likely voters) and the academic pollster projects McAuliffe to hold a seven-point lead over Cuccinelli, 45-38 percent, with Libertarian Robert Sarvis capturing 10 percent.

The CNU researchers asked further questions about why Sarvis respondents are supporting the independent gubernatorial candidate. They also queried those in the sampling universe about the Virginia down ballot races.

In responding to whether the Sarvis voters are supporting their candidate as a form of protest against both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, 68 percent said yes. Thirty-seven percent said if Sarvis were not a candidate they would be supporting Cuccinelli; 17 percent made the same statement regarding McAuliffe. These findings are more dramatic than published elsewhere. When other pollsters have asked this question, they have reported results suggesting a more even distribution of Sarvis voters vis-a-vis major party candidate preference.
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Will History Repeat in Alabama?

Bradley Byrne

Bradley Byrne

According to a brand new flash poll, history may repeat itself in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District special run-off election scheduled for next Tuesday.

In 2010, Alabama state Sen. Bradley Byrne scored 27.9 percent of the statewide Republican gubernatorial vote to finish in first place and advance to the two-person run-off election. He was paired with Tuscaloosa dermatologist and state Rep. Robert Bentley, who qualified for the secondary vote with the barest of margins over the man placing third, Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James. Backed by the various Tea Party organizations and his strongly conservative base voter, Bentley soared past Sen. Byrne to capture a 56-44 percent Republican nomination run-off victory, and then was elected governor in the general election.

Now, as a candidate in the special congressional election for resigned Rep. Jo Bonner’s (R-AL-1) former position, Byrne again placed first in the original primary, garnering 35 percent of the total Republican vote. He faces businessman and conservative activist Dean Young, who scored 23 percent on Sept. 24, but is now running much closer according to late race polling.

Byrne is leaving no stone unturned in this run-off campaign, employing aggressive fundraising and advertising techniques, capturing more endorsements, benefiting from outside independent expenditure advocacy, and attracting establishment Republican support. But, according to a new Cygnal consulting firm flash poll conducted on Oct. 30, Byrne has dropped behind his opponent, Young, by a 43-40 percent  Continue reading >

Is Cuccinelli Suddenly Narrowing the Gap in Virginia?

Two just-released polls suggest that Virginia’s embattled Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli is making strides in his battle against Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, but even this data still portends that the latter will win the race next Tuesday.

The least credible of the two surveys comes from Zogby-Newsmax (dates and sample size not released). The results reveal a McAuliffe lead of only 35-30 percent, with nine percent headed for Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis. No other poll has shown such a low determined number of voters. Zogby then removed all of the undecideds and the adjusted report gives McAuliffe a 43-37 percent advantage, with Sarvis posting 11 percent.

Two additional sector reports also initiate skepticism. First, the pollster suggests that Libertarian Sarvis “hitting double-digits is very doable.” Often times third-party candidates poll well during a race, normally when both major party candidates are negatively viewed as in this Virginia race. Rarely, if ever, do they exceed the 10 percent figure, however. The Zogby statement about Sarvis’ potential performance ignores virtually all previous trends.

In the most recent race where the Independent candidate was a potentially serious factor occurred in New Jersey back in 2009. Then, Chris Daggett was polling far better against Chris Christie and then-Gov. Jon Corzine than Sarvis is against McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, but finished with just under 6 percent of the vote.

Second, the Zogby poll projects that approximately one-third of African-American voters are still undecided. Based upon voting history and turnout projections, this is an unrealistic and clearly incorrect conclusion. Factoring in the typical African-American share of the electorate added to their traditional overwhelming support of the Democratic candidate would then allow McAuliffe to claim a much bigger lead than the five points illuminated in the spread above.

The second poll, from Quinnipiac University (Oct. 22-28; 1,182 likely Virginia voters) – an organization that regularly surveys the  Continue reading >